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Collection Connections: The Press

One of the joys of working with rare materials is discovering the unexpected ways in which they connect to one another.

This year, Special Collections acquired a large collection of assorted newspapers, representing a wide variety of locations and time periods. This included quite a few different titles from our region, including many from Philadelphia. Most of these papers are almost completely forgotten, and many are either unavailable online, or else represented only as scans from microfilm, which can sometimes be hard to read. As time permits, we are adding higher quality digitized issues to our Digital Library.

The Press, masthead

The most recent Philadelphia paper we digitized is an issue of The Press from September 11, 1858. The paper was published by John Weiss Forney, a journalist and politician whose biographical information is widely available online, even though his actual publications are harder to find.

Receipt for The Press

This is where the unexpected connections come into play: the search for online information about The Press unexpectedly led right back to our collections. One of our other collections includes the receipts of Patrick Barry Hayes, one of the descendants of Commodore Barry. Hayes was a subscriber to The Press just a year after the issue we digitized, and we have the receipt to prove it!

Of course, this is only a tiny and minor coincidence, but these connections help add depth to the historical record — we can now understand more tangibly what goods were received in exchange for Hayes’ payment, and we know some of the details of the life of a reader of that paper. As more material comes online, this web of connections grows ever richer, and the potential for contextualizing artifacts increases.


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Last Modified: November 19, 2019